Cur­tis leaves cit­rus in good heart

It’s time for change said re­tir­ing New Zealand Cit­rus Grow­ers (NZCGI) chair­man, Rick Cur­tis.

The Orchardist - - Citrus Conference -

THE mid-1980s were a time of change for the cit­rus in­dus­try body, with NZCGI formed to meet a need for a change in the levy sys­tem. Cur­tis served his time from1986 as in­au­gu­ral chair­man then in 2005 was coopted back to serve again. With his res­ig­na­tion he said it’s a new time of change for the in­dus­try.

“We have spent a lot of time de­vel­op­ing a strat­egy to take us into the fu­ture and some re­ally good, ex­pe­ri­enced board mem­bers are there to help de­liver it,” he said.

“But like other fruit groups, we need to see a new crop of young lead­ers come through. There is a lot to be gained from hav­ing a shift in lead­er­ship. New peo­ple bring new ideas and pos­i­tive change, and that can only be good.”

Cur­tis was him­self a new face when he first took the chair all those years ago. From a sheep and beef farm­ing back­ground in Hawke’s Bay, he spent three years work­ing the mines in Aus­tralia un­til 1986 when he and wife Nici bought the 30 hectare Kerik­eri or­chard where they grow ki­wifruit and lemons.

Although firmly rooted in his lo­cal com­mu­nity, he’s al­ways been a big be­liever in look­ing off­shore to help cre­ate a ro­bust cit­rus in­dus­try. But he be­lieves the most im­por­tant thing in­dus­try play­ers can do is work to­gether across all prod­uct groups.

“I re­mem­ber years ago an Amer­i­can grower was over here for a con­fer­ence and he said ‘you guys re­ally need to stop ar­gu­ing amongst your­selves’,” he said.

“Most of those is­sues have been re­solved over the years but there is still work to be done.There is far more fruit on the do­mes­tic mar­ket than we ever en­vis­aged and deal­ing with that re­quires a lot of co-op­er­a­tion be­tween grow­ers.”

For Cur­tis, the big­gest de­vel­op­ment he’d seen in the last 30 years had been the rise of the cor­po­rate grower.

“That’s been a good thing in that, as big grow­ers tend to take a long-sighted view, there is a lot more co-op­er­a­tion be­tween re­gions than there ever was be­fore,” he said.

“I think they should be con­grat­u­lated for their at­ti­tude to­wards tra­di­tional grow­ers. They are big enough to have gone off and done their own thing, but they’ve showed a real will­ing­ness to work with oth­ers and that makes ev­ery­body stronger.”

Wayne Hall has agreed to be in­terim chair un­til the for­ma­tion of the al­tered struc­ture that is part of the new strat­egy voted in at last month’s an­nual meet­ing. And he said he has big boots to fill.

“Rick has done an out­stand­ing job in lead­ing NZCGI through some ex­cel­lent and some very dif­fi­cult sea­sons and NZCGI is grate­ful for the time, ef­fort and pas­sion he has put in to lead­ing and or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said.

“He brought a valu­able level of ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­er­nance to the po­si­tion and that will be sorely missed.”

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